A Proven Approach Accessible to All
In the past 15 years, the number of U.S. schools following a Montessori curriculum has increased by 127%. Why such renewed interest in a teaching philosophy pioneered by an Italian physician in the early 1900’s?
The fact is that Maria Montessori was a woman ahead of her time. The skills that are valued in today’s workplaces—curiosity, innovation, critical thinking, and teamwork - are skills that Montessori students practice every day.
In addition, longitudinal research has consistently supported the efficacy of a Montessori education. Yet within 20 miles
of our school, there is exactly one public Montessori school—ours. In that same radius, there are several private Montessori schools with average tuition between $10,000 and $15,000 per year, making this beautiful educational philosophy available to only a limited few who can afford it.
Maria Montessori’s first school— Casa dei Bambini—served children of working parents in the slums of the San Lorenzo quarter of Rome. In a run-down tenement building, she demonstrated that all children had potential and that all children could learn when given the right support by adults.
In that spirit, from the very first time that several parents began discussing the original idea to
open Willow Oak’s first preschool classroom, accessibility was a priority. Those founding parents made sure that the school was affordable. The Board of Directors carried on that tradition by making a commitment to financial aid early in the school’s growth.
When it was time to decide how to grow into an Elementary program, accessibility remained central to the conversation. On one hand, the school could offer “perfect” Montessori to the few who could afford private school tuition. On the other hand, the school could tackle the challenge of implementing authentic Montessori in a public school setting accessible to all. The Board courageously chose accessibility.
Willow Oak Montessori believes that children are best prepared for the challenges of the real world if their education occurs in an environment that reflects the diversity of that world. As such, we value and honor the diversity in our community, seen and unseen, including by race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, ability, family structure, and religious affiliation. Here is a partial profile of our student bodies:
- The reported race/ethnic composition of our charter school students is: 80% White, 11% Multi-Racial, 5% Hispanic/Latino, 2% Asian, and 2% African-American. For the Children’s House it is: 73% White, 17% Multi-Racial, 7% Hispanic/Latina, and 3% African-American.
- While income is only one component of socioeconomic status, we know that 17% of our Charter School students would qualify for free or reduced lunch if they attended a traditional public school and 83% would not. In addition, 14% of Children’s House students receive financial aid from the school and 86% do not.
- While we have students everywhere along the ability continuum at both schools, 12% of our charter school students are classified as Students with Disabilities under the Federal IDEA legislation and 88% are not.